Netanyahu. Collecting signatures
Photo: Lior Mizrachi
Schneller. No further
Photo: Gil Yohanan
While the Prime Minister's Office is working on an Israeli response to the firm American demand to halt construction in east Jerusalem, two different Knesset initiatives are calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stick to his stand that Israel would continue building beyond the 1967 border, as it has done in the past 42 years.
Knesset Member Otniel Schneller (Kadima) on Wednesday began collecting signatures from members of different factions for a petition supporting the prime minister in light of the harsh dialogue between Jerusalem and Washington.
Not many MKs have signed the letter, and Schneller plans to expand the list on Thursday.
The Knesset's Land of Israel Lobby is also organizing a petition supporting Netanyahu. "We call on you once again to continue sticking to your stand that there is no room for additional gestures on the part of Israel as a condition for resuming the talks, and not to give in to Palestinian extortion and international pressure for additional gestures," says the letter signed by MKs and faction heads.
The lobby is headed by Coalition Chairman Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) and MK Arieh Eldad (National Union).
Schneller, a member of the opposition, explained that "alongside the disagreements on diplomatic issues, there is no dispute when it comes to building in western Jerusalem, and no party can agree to the American pressure."
He added, "I wanted to see whether the parties could be united around this. There were two parties that had reservations over the original wording and have asked to add two more sentences."
Schneller clarified that he backs Kadima's criticism over the government's conduct in the Ramat Shlomo construction affair and its conduct in terms of Israel's relations with the United States.
"It's important for me to show that Kadima is not playing politics when it comes to Jerusalem. The government, due to its worthless conduct, has put Jerusalem on the agenda. But, knowing Clinton's demands, we must say no further. These demands are serious and no Jewish Israeli citizen will accept them. There is a limit and we must back the State, not the government."
Amnon Meranda contributed to this report